Liverpool 0 v West Ham 0

Author: . Published: at 9:31pm

 West Ham drew even at Liverpool today 0-0 in the fourth round of the FA cup.  Liverpool, coming off both a thrilling 5-4, last minute, Premier League win against Norwich City and a mid-week League Cup victory against Stoke City, which featured a penalty kick shoot out, entered today’s match with a very exhausted first team.  Jurgen Klopp elected to start an entire new side for this match, with ten different field players from the Stoke victory.  

Slaven Bilic, looking for his third victory against the Reds since August, fielded more of his traditional starting XI for the Anfield meeting.  Darren Randoph took over goal keeping duties for Adrian, who has reportedly journeyed to Seville for the birth of his child.  

Possibly West Ham supporters entered this match feeling that their strengthened squad would dominate this Liverpool shadow team, similar to the West Ham/ Nottingham Forest disaster two years ago, however Liverpool’s scrappy side showed great form in the opening half.  

Early in the match Cameron Brannagan had a free kick outside the box and looked for Christian Benteke but he couldn’t get around Ogbanna and Randolph was able to gather it up.  In the 35th Brannagan had another good chance, striking from 25 yards out, and Randolph’s diving efforts sent the ball wide.

West Ham really didn’t find too many chances during the opening half, despite the presence of Payet and Valencia.  The closest first half opportunity was during the added time when Obiang took a long strike which barely missed outside the far side of the post.  

During the first half, James Tomkins suffered another cut to the head while challenging for a header.  He was replaced by Joey OBrien, making a rare appearance and returning from injury.  Jelevic was also brought on for Kouyate to provide the Hammers with a second forward.  

The second half was as frustrating for West a Ham as the opening half.  In the 50th minute a Payet free kick looped into traffic.  Jelevic blindly headed it into the middle of the six-yard box where Steven Caulker clearly handled it with his arm.  The referees didn’t call the penalty and Liverpool was able to clear it.  

 Having already used two substitutions, Bilic inserted Antonio into the lineup with 20 minutes remaining, replacing Moses.  In the 75th Randolph truly saved the day blocking a driving Benteke, then blocking Allen on the rebound, then immediately blocking another attack by Benteke.   Truly this match seemed to about Benteke attacking and Darren Randolph saving the day.

Probably West Ham’s final decent opportunity came in the first minute of stoppage play when Payet dribbling between the touch line and the penalty area flicked the ball back to Aaron Cresswell, who crossed to a leaping Antonio.  Antonio’s header hit the near side post, when the assistant referee, somewhat belatedly, signaled that the ball had curled out of play on Cresswell’s cross.  The remaining three minutes of stoppage time were rather uneventful from a West Ham attacking point of view, and the final whistle signaled that this fourth round would continue in Upton Park in February.  

The winners of this match were the 44,000 Liverpool supporters in Anfield, who expected their young substitute team to fall for a third time to West Ham once they saw their manager’s starting line up.    That West Ham was unable to generate any true scoring threat and earn their rightful spot in the fifth round of the FA cup, is possibly the surprise of the day.  It is well documented that this Hammers side plays up when in the role of the underdog.  Hopefully Bilic can find some way to motivate his players on days when they are the clear favorites.  With this year’s Europa League and the League Cup already out of reach, West Ham is quickly running out of opportunities to win their fans a trophy.  

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